Uncovering Buxton’s puppetry past

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AN appeal is being made for information about Buxton’s Punch and Judy past as the town prepares to take a central role in national celebrations to mark the 350th anniversary of P&J.

Funny Wonders Inc is hosting the Buxton events which will take place during the Buxton Puppet Festival in July.

The town is important to the celebrations, not only due to its rich heritage but because it is believed that the first ever film of a P&J performance, recently discovered, is of a Buxton-based performer named Henry Bailey and his adopted son Harry Russell.

Census and historical records show that Henry Bailey lived on Bennett Street from 1891 to 1908 and died in 1909.

Geoff Felix, a Professor and historian, has researched the story to create an exhibition detailing the history and life of Henry Bailey and his family, for the Puppet Festival. The exhibition will be in the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and the film will also be shown.

Organisers would like to collect more information about Henry Bailey, his father James Bailey, regarded as the best P&J man of the Victorian era, his adoptive son, Harry Russell, and a possible grandson ‘Henry Russell’ mentioned in the 1921 Bennett St census.

Anyone with information, memories, family stories and/or memorabilia of P&J and the Bailey-Russell Buxton residents, should contact Ali Quas-Cohen at ali.quas-cohen@funnywonders.org.uk, call 07849 524791 or via www.funnywonders.org.uk